I am currently doing research for a journal article on Missouri politics before the Civil War (more info on that is forthcoming) and came across this remarkable Letter to the Editor in the Daily Missouri Republican, which was actually the most popular Democratic newspaper in St. Louis. It would be really useful as a primary source in a classroom setting. The letter, written by “Slaveholder” and published on August 4, 1860, is a remarkable document for three different reasons:
- It demonstrates that the leading issue on the minds of Missourians leading up to the outbreak of the Civil War was the status of slavery, particularly its westward expansion into new federal territories. Just about every day in the newspapers slavery was the main topic of concern in the 1850s and early 1860s.
- It captures the concerns of proslavery border state residents who feared the election of Southern Democrat John C. Breckenridge as much as Republican Abraham Lincoln.
- In many respects it correctly predicts the consequences of the Civil War for Missouri. The state would experience the third most number of battles during the war (behind Virginia and Tennessee) and slavery would be abolished by the state legislature in January 1865, less than five years after this letter was written.
Here is an excerpt of the letter:
Next month I’ll be taking a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) through Missouri State University on the Civil War in Missouri. History professor Jeremy Neely will be teaching the course, which you can sign up for here. I am really excited to learn something new about a topic that I’m very passionate about.
There is no syllabus or required reading for the class, but in preparation for it I wanted to put together my own list of resources that I’ve relied to inform my own understanding of the Civil War experience in Missouri. Please add your favorite reads and recommendations in the comments section.
Adam Arenson, The Great Heart of the Republic: St. Louis and the Cultural Civil War (Harvard University Press, 2011)
Albert Castel, General Sterling Price and the Civil War in the West (Louisiana State University Press, 1968)
Bryce A. Suderow and R. Scott House, The Battle of Pilot Knob: Thunder in Arcadia Valley (Southeast Missouri State University Press, 2014)
Daniel O’Flaherty, General Jo Shelby: Undefeated Rebel (University of North Carolina Press, 1954)
Dennis K. Boman, Lincoln and Citizens’ Rights in Civil War Missouri: Balancing Freedom and Security (Louisiana State University Press, 2011)
Diane Mutti Burke and Jonathan Earle, eds., Bleeding Kansas, Bleeding Missouri: The Long Civil War on the Border (University Press of Kansas, 2013)
Diane Mutti Burke, On Slavery’s Border: Missouri’s Small Slaveholding Households, 1815-1865 (University of Georgia Press, 2010)
Jay Monaghan, Civil War on the Western Border, 1854-1865 (Little, Brown & Co., 1955)
James Neal Primm, Lion of the Valley: St. Louis, Missouri, 1764-1980 (Missouri Historical Society Press, 1981)
Jeffrey L. Patrick, Campaign for Wilson’s Creek: The Fight for Missouri Begins (McWhitney Foundation Press, 2011)
Louis S. Gerteis, Civil War St. Louis (University of Kansas Press, 2001)
Louis S. Gerteis, The Civil War in Missouri: A Military History (University of Missouri Press, 2012)
Michael Fellman, Inside War: The Guerrilla Conflict in Missouri During the American Civil War (Oxford University Press, 1989)
Nicole Etcheson, Bleeding Kansas: Contested Liberty in the Civil War Era (University of Kansas Press, 2004)
Silvana R. Siddali, Missouri’s War: The Civil War in Documents (Ohio University Press, 2009)
William Garrett Piston and Richard W. Hatcher III, Wilson’s Creek: The Second Battle of the Civil War and the Men Who Fought It (University of North Carolina Press, 2000)
William E. Parrish, Frank Blair: Lincoln’s Conservative (University of Missouri Press, 1998)